Posts Tagged Carcass

Wolverine Like Creature Reviews Carcass “Surgical Steel”

Carcass-Surgical-Steel

I woke up about two months ago with a wolverine on my porch.  I think it was a wolverine.  I can’t really tell.  It is a horrifying beast that smells like dead otters. When I found it, it looked cute enough.  Whoever left it for me put it in a basket with a blanket around it like it was a baby.  However, the minute I took it into my home it went berserk destroying my entire Manowar vinyl collection and the Mille Petrozza velvet painting I had commissioned during a particularly serious Kreator listening binge.  I call the thing The Freon Neonate.

The first issue that needed to be addressed was finding it food.  I tried microwave pizzas, guacamole dip, Cheetos, Lysol, pepper spray….but it wanted no part of those things.  I picked up some groundhogs from the pet store and it seemed to like those much better.  They are expensive.  One groundhog is about fifteen bucks.  Way too much to spend to feed this thing regularly.

My problem was solved about two weeks ago when I took the thing for a walk to the park up the street from me.  The Freon Neonate spotted a hipster Jehovah’s Witness knocking on a door in our neighborhood and went wild.  He snapped the leash I was walking him with and, in what seemed a matter of seconds, retracted its jaws consumed a hipster five times his size.  It was incredible.  Nothing was left.  Bones, horned-rimmed glasses, Converse sneakers, beard, Elvis Costello tee-shirt, Watchtower magazines….gone.

I wasn’t sure if it liked hipsters or Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I fed both to The Freon Neonate.  While it barely touched the Witness, gnawing briefly on her arms before losing interest, it sucked down the hipster like it hadn’t eaten in months.  It even polished off her Hello Kitty vintage purse in two bites.  Problem solved.  All I needed to do to keep it healthy was go down to Little Five Points every few days, bag a fresh hipster and we were set.

After a while, I found The Freon Neonate was getting bored.  It would lie on its side in its cage for hours making terrible howling noises and horrifying the neighbors.  I decided that I would try to teach it English.  Its language abilities aren’t bad for a wolverine.  It had learned enough to communicate on a basic level by the beginning of August, but we had both got sick of the didactic nature of the lessons pretty quickly.  We needed a new challenge.

That’s when I decided to give it a chance to do album reviews for Tyranny of Tradition.  I called up Nuclear Blast’s PR department to see if I could get one promotional copy of the new Carcass album for The Freon Neonate to review.  They immediately sent me 127 copies of the CD along with a wolverine sized “Surgical Steel” tee shirt.  I threw the CD in immediately.  Here is how the creature responded to each of the songs.

The Freon Neonate

1985-The Freon Neonate was staring off into space when the album came on, but immediately began to pace back and forth nervously.  Halfway through the track it started howling in a perverted attempt to mock Bill Steer’s guitar tone.

Thrasher’s Abattoir-The quick beginning to the song startled the animal.   It began thrashing its body against the bars wailing louder and louder.

Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System-The wailing continued reaching its crescendo halfway through this tune.  Then, the animal began to say “Gooooooood.  Goooooood.  BLERGHYPHERB!!!!  GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!”

A Congealed Clot of Blood-It didn’t seem to like this one as much.  For the first minute, it bobbed its head, but it lost interest and began to lick its own feet.

The Master Butcher’s Apron-Something in this song made the wolverine unhappy.  “EHHHHHHHH…..NO SONG GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD…..GLERPHICKLUHR!!!!!!”  With 2:30 left, it gnawed through the bars and began a rampage through the house, breaking furniture and dishes.

Noncompliance to ASTM F899-12 Standard-I spent most of this song chasing the animal around and was unable to take notes.  Great tune, but beyond smashing a vase that belonged to my Aunt Penelope, I can’t tell you much about the animal’s reaction.

The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills-Satiated in its desire to destroy things and chewing on the fingers of some kid with an MGMT that I found down at the local mission, the animal was finally able to relax and enjoy the magnificence of this utterly amazing song.  We both agreed on this as the best song on the album.

Unfit For Human Consumption, 316 L Grade Surgical Steel, Captive Bolt Piston-I was, again, unable to record any response as the animal had nodded off while enjoying the sedating effect of eating hipster fingers.  It seemed happy enough, but I don’t want to speculate as to the animal’s views on the songs based on its snoring.

Mount of Execution-It came out of its comatose state during the acoustic guitar intro and began to howl:

“Souuuuuund….like…..GLERGHPH……GLRRGPHHHHHHHHHHRG……………laaaaaater….Maaagaaaaaaadeth!”

Without knowing the animal’s opinion on the last few Megadeth albums, I was unable to figure out whether this was an endorsement or a criticism.

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3,000 Copies of New Carcass Record To Be Released On Limited Edition Goitre

new carcass

Fans of the band Carcass have a lot to look forward to in 2013.  First came the news that the band had returned to the studio to record their first album in 17 years.  The album, to be titled Surgical Steel, is due to hit stores sometime later this year.  Now, it has been announced the band will be releasing a limited printing of 3,000 copies of the new album on 780-gram goitre.

For years, goitres were thought to simply be swollen thyroid glands found in people with iodine deficiencies.  Until recently, few music fans realized how effective goitres were for carrying high definition sound.  “Goitre has a much warmer, richer analog sound, but retains that sound quality better over time,” said record producer and sound quality expert Hakaru Hashimoto, who is currently working on Neil Diamond’s first goitre based release “Banned in Boston”, scheduled to come out in late 2014.

Several bands including Portal, Jungle Rot and Manilla Road have recently released limited pressings of their new albums on goitre, but Carcass is, by far, the most well-known metal band to put out a new release in this fashion.

goitre

While new goitre records are still relatively uncommon, the re-release of earlier editions of albums on goitre has quietly become a successful way for artists to cash in.  These rare items have fetched huge sums on websites like eBay.  A goitre version of Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” recently ran one music aficionado 2,000 dollars.  However, with improvements in goitre harvesting techniques, it is possible that the industry may embrace going “full-goitre” as early as 2021.

Owning albums on goitre has become a major status symbol among some hardcore metal fans.  Seattle, Washington opened America’s first Vinyl and Goitre Shop earlier in the spring.  The store has been flooded with fans seeking early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest goitres.  While many metalheads have jumped on the goitre bandwagon others, like 30-year metal veteran Danny von Hellstorm, lead vocalist from the band Albino Autopsy, claim they have gotten sick of all of the “goitre posers” that are flooding the scene today.

Growing their own goitres has even become a fashion statement among some metalheads in Florida.  Congenital Hypothyroidism, a band out of Punta Gorda, became the first group to grow matching goitres earlier in the year.  None of the members have consumed salt in the past 8 months in order to grow the lumps in their neck that would allow them to call themselves the world’s first “proto-goitrecore” band.  Goitremania can clearly be taken too far, as evidenced when the band’s lead guitarist Neoplasm von Goitrogen was hospitalized after complications related to his attempted goitre piercing.

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2014 In Review: Year of The Metal Subgenre

69_photoA near tsunami of new metal bands came to the forefront of the American music scene in 2014.  After Obama signed the controversial law in 2013 that outlawed country music, boy bands and songs by coke addicted former Mouseketeers, metal began to take off as the most popular form of musical expression in the land.

A wave of new bands brought in a flood of popular subgenres.  After all, how can you possibly catch the attention of an audience numbed into a near coma by a never-ending stream of cute kitten pictures on their computer without some sort of hook?

Years back, a number of metal bands figured out that by coming up with new subgenres you can effectively con the audience into the belief that they are experiencing something totally state-of-the-art.  This was a brilliant assessment, because truthfully, there are only so many ways you can cook an egg.  If you take the story out of metal, it’s mostly just a bunch of sweaty, badly dressed people making loud noises for a bunch of sweaty, badly dressed people who are apoplectically staring into The Nothing.

Honestly, how different is one three and a half minute thrash song from another?  Is technical death metal really all that unique in comparison to, say, regular old garden-variety death metal?  Thus, God created the subgenre and gave us a way to turn tiny, obscure distinctions into whole schools of thought and belief.  One man’s doom is another man’s sludge, as the old saying goes.  Or something.

When the next civilization digs through the rubble a thousand years from now and finds all the 2014 issues of Metal Maniacs it will be clear, this was The Year of The Metal Subgenre.  So, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the best new subgenres created in 2014 along with the band that best represents that style.

New Wave of Soviet Socialist Metal (NWOSSM or NWOCCCP)

When I think about 1980’s power metal, my mind often drifts to the Soviets.  Many people would argue that very little great creativity came out of Russia and its satellite states in the 80’s.  Clearly those people haven’t heard some of the early albums by Lenin’s Tomb or Khrushchev’s Shoe.  As young Russians look back on the glorious days of bureaucratic inefficiency that marked the end of the Soviet Empire, many of them have started playing the music that dominated that era.

Best Band:  Iron Curtain

Unblackened Yachtcore

This quirky fusion between the raw, earthy tones of Christian black metal and 1970 and 80’s soft rock caught fire in 2014.  Many music aficionados were looking for a way to reconcile their passion for the music of Michael McDonald and the songs of Darkthrone.  This cutting edge subgenre gave them the perfect combination.  Lyrically, it blends elegant prose from the New Testament with poignant stories about the dreams and inner longings of Yuppies.

Best Band:  Captain Trips and Tenille

Proto Originalist Doom

Who would have believed that doom metal could possibly be blended with the text of Supreme Court decisions written by Antonin Scalia in order to create a new style of music?  Dark, heavy, Sabbath inspired guitar riffs are used here to celebrate the spirit of unbridled judicial restraint and the idea that just about every thought that was formulated after 1787 is entirely worthless.

Best Band:  Woe vs. Wade

Post-Marxist Extremely Technical Progressive Rawlsian Eco Thrash (PMETPRET)

More of a social movement than a style of music, PMETPRET bands have attempted to use technical death metal as a tool of creating social justice and encouraging recycling.

Best Band: Fates Warming

Anatomical Glam Grindslam

Grindcore was a dying subgenre until it caught an infusion of hair metal earlier this year.  Something about the idea of putting together the catchy, party rock stylings of bands like Poison and Cinderella with the fierce brutality of early Carcass and The County Medical Examiners struck a chord with the American public.

Best Band:  Twisted Blister  

New York City Viking Hardcore (NYHVC)As most Americans know, a Viking gang crime wave hit New York City in early 2014.  Alienated young teens joined Viking gangs in droves and pillaged many of the stores and homes that were not guarded by people with assault rifles and high capacity magazines.  NYHVC has become a way of expressing their rage at our dysfunctional social order.

Best Band:  Freyahazard

Heideggerian Ontological Powerviolence (HOP) 

If you are like most Americans, you feel deeply offended that you grew up in a culture that has been thoroughly shaped by Cartesian Dualism.   You also probably wonder how you can best disclose being-in-the-world as a whole.  And you probably own at least the first four Spazz albums (the ones they did before they sold out).  It is not a coincidence that HOP music caught on overnight and became the top selling subgenre in metal in 2014.

Best Band:  Being-Toward-Death-Angel

Old School Hebraic Nu-Metal

The most surprising comeback in 2014 was the resurgence of Nu-Metal, only this time instead of “borrowing” style and imagery associated with African American culture these musicians began stealing traditional Jewish themes.

Best Band:  Limp Brizkit

Symphonic Free Market Hayekia’N’Roll

In an attempt to connect with younger, hipper Americans, The Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with the Koch Brothers, have spent over 30 billion dollars creating melodic death metal records in order to spread the message of free market intellectual titans like Milton Friedman and the guy who invented the chicken sandwich.

Best Band:  Children of Serfdom

 

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Carcass Members Ask Obama To Stop Using “Regurgitation of Giblets” As Campaign Theme Song

On the eve of this years’ Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama is facing tough criticism from death metal legends Carcass.  Obama, who regularly uses the splatter-grind classic “Regurgitation of Giblets” as intro music before his speeches, was asked to “cease and desist” from using the song until his policies match “the spirit in which the song was intended.”

According to Carcass singer Jeff Walker, “Regurgitation” was meant “to address the deeper themes of dehumanization in the work place, consumer alienation and the effects of modernity on the human form.”  Guitarist Bill Steer reiterated Walker’s statement and added, “The song certainly wasn’t meant to help elect the President of the United States, a nation that is, after all, the largest dehumanizing, alienating force in the history of organized society.”

Obama, a die-hard Carcass fan, had been using the song to contrast the campaign’s message of stability and progress with the Republican themes of blind panic and race-baiting.  He has even managed to use lines from it in a campaign speech in Dubuque, Iowa last month.  “Romney’s America is one where the average American will be spewing up his or her collective sanguined guts into a wooden box.  I ask you, do you want to be trapped in that type of sarcophagus?  Is that the sarcophagus we want for our children?”

In deference to Carcass, the Obama campaign will no longer be using the song.  They have decided to switch to either Clinton era favorite “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac or “Epitaph of the Credulous” by Suffocation.  However, the campaign plans to keep distributing the 30,000 Carcass themed “Festerday In America” pro-Obama tee-shirts  that they have been handing to supporters at campaign rallies.

This is not the first time that an American political campaign has run into trouble over the use of a song.  Back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen strongly objected to Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA” as a campaign anthem.  In 1840, the band Cattle Decapitation went to court to stop William Henry Harrison from using the song “I Eat Your Skin” in several television commercials.

Occasionally, however, metal bands lend their support to help a campaign.  In 2000, metal godfathers Death re-recorded their first album under the new title of “Scream Albert Gore”, in order to support the Democratic Presidential candidate.  While Gore did not become President, the album was credited with helping him win the hotly contested State of Florida in his campaign against George W Bush.

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Dissecting CARCASS’ Heartwork-Seventh Incision….Arbeit Macht Fleisch

This is the seventh in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

Prognathous gears grind

So diligent and serrated they mesh

Toothed cogs churn

So trenchant, against soft flesh

Worked to the bone

Up to the hilt, depredated

Raw materialism

To stoke the furnaces

Toiling, rotting

Life slowly slips away

Consumed, inhumed

In this mechanized corruption line

By mincing machinery industrialized – pulped and pulverized

Enslaved to the grind

 Blood, sweat, toil, tears

Arbeit macht frei/fleisch

 Grave to the grind

Inimitable gears twist

To churn a living grave

Stainless cogs shredding

Scathing pistons bludgeon and flail

Stripping to the bone

Retund mandrels levigate

Just raw material

Your pound of flesh for the suzerain

Toiling, rotting

Life slowly dissipates

Consumed, inhumed

In a corruption line, mechanized

By mincing machinery, industrialized – crunched and brutalized

A grave to the blind

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

-Winston Churchill

The ghoulish, omnipresent nature of the Protestant work ethic is everywhere you look in these last days of our dying empire.  It’s offered as the panacea for all that ails the American spirit.  After all, those who worked hard built this great land.  If we simply do more, exert ourselves we can attain our dreams.  That house with a trampoline in the backyard and the smiling kids and the really big television can all be yours. We go to our jobs, acting out our lives, pacing, stammering about how we’ve been here since 6 AM, afraid to appear to be idle even for a moment, repeating our actions over and over with terminal efficiency. All the while we run headlong towards our own demise, with only the better mousetrap we’ve built as proof of our worth.  If one takes a step back from the banality of modern life they might quite honestly want to ask the question, “Is all this effort worth it?”

This question is at the core of the Carcass song Arbeit Macht Fleisch.  The title is a play on words based on the expression was emblazoned above the gates of Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz.  The original expression, Arbeit Macht Frei, translates to “work will make you free”.  While I strongly doubt Carcass was looking to compare the Holocaust to life in the modern world, I believe the deeper idea is that work is often mindless drudgery that can, over time, deprive someone of the experience of being human.  It is a series of meaningless, mechanistic actions that create nothing more than the need for more meaningless, mechanistic actions.  Most people are familiar with the rags to riches Horatio Alger stories so deeply engrained in the myth of America.  A person who works hard will eventually attain the American Dream or so the story goes.  In this song, Carcass proposes another horrific possibility.  They offer the idea that work will not make someone free, but it will make one’s flesh (fleisch) a part of a great senseless pageant.  Certainly, all work is not pointless as all jobs are not mindlessly dull, but it is fair to say many careers are built on the endless drive to create things that are simply not needed based on illusions that, held up to the light, hardly seem worthy of a lifetime of stress and strain.

If this idea has a measure of truth to it and those experiencing it recognize this, what makes them move forward and continue to show up day after dreary day?  One possibility is the sheer power of the mythology that surrounds work.  In America, work has taken on nearly chimerical significance.  It is often assumed that those who are the most successful are those who have worked the hardest.  The perception of someone’s work ethic has become, on some level, the measure of a man or woman.  Those who possess the least resources are perceived to be lazy and apathetic.  Those on top of the ladder seem to be entitled to whatever they own because of their Herculean fits of labor.  Sure, there are your occasional lottery winners or millionaire heiresses, but the system itself is basically fair.  When a persons worth becomes defined by a characteristic they are motivated to push harder.  After all, no one wants to end up like “those people”, the ones who give no effort and are rewarded with lives of poverty and destitution.  They are the ones who deserve blame and scorn.  They are the ones who have failed the American Dream; it certainly has not failed them.

Being able to buy into this myth, and it most certainly is a myth, comes with a cost.  The cost is paid in hours, minutes and seconds.  We are given so little time to be alive, a pittance in the larger flow of endless time.    So much of this time is spent chasing a fantasy, not just the delusion of material paradise on earth, but also the promise of worthiness that indeterminate spasms of labor supposedly grant.  However, we can never prove ourselves in this arena because the finish line keeps moving forward.  Just out of our grasp.  So close we nearly taste it, but never close enough to touch.

I doubt that Carcass intended this song to be a complete renunciation of the importance of work.  They are talented musicians who must have spent untold hours honing their craft to the point where they could create a masterwork the likes of “Heartwork”.  However, the elevation of work to the central position in the lives of people and its use as a defining characteristic in the worth of the individual is a driving factor in our sustained race to nowhere.  Our value should not be based on what we create or do for a living, but rather for the very fact that we exist.  Each life, regardless of what it is used for, is a life worthy of respect, adoration and esteem.  It is this outlook that offers us access to compassion and empathy for those of us traveling together through the formidable struggles, terrible humiliations and unyielding indignities that comprise life in our world.

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Dissecting Carcass’ “Heartwork”: Sixth Incision…This Mortal Coil

This is the sixth in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

This Mortal Coil

Tearing down the walls

Breaching frontiers, unlocking the gates

To a new world disorder

A fresh balance of terror, the equilibrium of hate/

All flesh entwined, in the equality of pain

Archaic nescience unleashed

Entrenched, a bitter legacy

Tempered in mental scars

All flesh entwined in mortal equality

Tangled mortal coil

Twisted and warped

 Tangled mortal coil

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western World is imploding.  During the mechanical ages, we extended our bodies in space.  Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system in a global embrace….Any extension, whether of skin, hand or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex.”

-Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media 1964

If we are not here in the traditional sense, then where are we? If our world has transformed from one of fragmented nations to a global village, what does that mean for us, the humans that inhabit such a world?  Today’s human is locked into a nearly constant struggle for identity, attempting to at once be an individualized autonomous self and an interconnected part of an ever-shrinking world.  We are engaged in a process of knocking down many of the walls that for generations have kept us separate.  In this moment of great potential, one is left to wonder whether we will seize the opportunity for global embrace or build a new set of seemingly insurmountable walls.  This question is the echo of our footstep as we wander headlong into the new frontier.

If the self is no longer locked in its corporeal shell and has, indeed, reached through the boundaries of the body and into the never-ending stratosphere, what does that really mean for us?  After all, I look at myself in the mirror and am still contained in a structure remarkably similar to that once inhabited by my ancestors.  Yet, my mind and spirit reach out beyond the fleshy walls of the Self and live an all-at-once, timeless existence in the technological superstructure that is fast becoming our world.  Or, more precisely, what does it mean that these ideas are flowing out of my mind, through, my fingers, through the ethers, into your brain almost simultaneously and yet I’ve barely moved?  It is not as simple as thinking things have changed from one form to another.  Rather, it is significant to understand that we are both individualized fragmented bodies and the all of the universe.  We are currently living in an age where we are consistently faced with being two things that seemingly cannot inhabit the same space.  How can a thing be finite and infinite at the same time?  More importantly for our purposes, how does a being reconcile the contradictions and stresses that arise from living in multiple realities in the same moment?

There is no easy answer for this.  The lyrics to this song are a reflection of the pain one might believe itself to feel when coming to terms with a question of this size and scope.  The quest for identity under such bizarre conditions could well lead someone to a feeling of being enraged and overwhelmed.  It’s not hard to imagine the “archaic nescience unleashed” to be the hand of the Self reaching back through time clutching at any answer that spares us the uncertainty of not being able to fully comprehend the world.  The coil on which Shakespeare so eloquently described us as living upon does not, upon first glance, seem built for multi-dimensional travel.  The connection of seven billion spines seems to be an inexplicable tangle from which we can never escape, but is it?

Maybe trying to find an answer is the larger problem we face.  If we believe in the need for a solution, we must also believe in the existence of the problem.  Maybe all there is to do is to call the thing what it is.  The world offers us an impossible contradiction.  Even in the confusion created by this idea, we are still given the power to say, “Yes, both are true in this moment.”  Is it impossible?  Yes.  But so too are the bizarre terms of our existence.  There is no rational context under which we can properly understand what it means to be alive.  In stopping the search and accepting an answer that defies all we think we know, we might well be able to begin understanding a question whose vastness reaches beyond eternity and whose minuteness is less than the size of one atom of our physical body.

Globalization, on some level, is a metaphorical magnification of the quest for spiritual identity faced by all humans.  It is the human condition writ large in a way that can be directly observed by anyone willing to ponder the meaning of the Self.  It broadcasts the eloquence of our contradiction in a way that is both tangible and boundless.  While our immediate reaction to the question may be fear, it also offers a sublime opportunity for self-awareness.  This form of awareness may feel like a curse at times, but it is a gift of the highest order.  It is nothing less than a window into the deepest recesses of our communal soul.

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Mambo #5 In Z-Flat Minor: Dissecting Carcass’ Oxidized Razor Masticator

Editors note:  Tyranny of Tradition is honored to be visited by guest writer and world-renowned grindcore expert Dr. Shawn “Von Deathmetal” Jobe. Shawn received his doctorate from the prestigious Millard Fillmore School of Grindcore Studies at Yale University. Dr. Von Deathmetal has just emerged from seven years on a mountaintop in Tibet continuously listening to Brutal Truth’s Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses in the hopes of gaining spiritual enlightenment. Dr. Von Deathmetal has also been on the forefront of the medical movement to use grindcore to help reduce migraines and plantar warts. He is a Pisces whose hobbies include juggling squirrels and playing canasta.

Reek Of Putrefaction,the 1988 release from Carcass, is easily one of the most misunderstood albums ever recorded.  Before Carcass became actual musicians and wrote some of the greatest riffs in the history of metal, they created their first album. Bill Steer, getting a fresh start after his tenure in Napalm Death joined short-lived vocalist Sanjiv and Ken Owen. Jeff Walker eventually took over on bass & vocals.

Trying to one-up his former noisemongers (one can only assume), Steer & co. entered a quaint studio fit for wealthy canines of the feminine sort in December of 1987 with 83 guitars, 12 bass guitars, a drum kit, 2 tornadoes, and 7 or 8 car crashes, depending on who you ask. The end result? The Reek Of Putrefaction. On the surface, it is cacophony of the highest measure, with all the melody of a combat tank rolling through landmine infested terrain. However, once you’ve stripped it down and have peeled back all of the layers, you soon discover that it was England’s answer to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” album.

Oxidized Razor Masticator

Chomping and splicing, your gums sliced to shreds

Tattered bloody ribbons, incisored skin is shred

Scraping on sore teeth, cracking and chipping

Shredding and mincing raw nerve endings

Salivating – sanguis, phlegm, froth and foam

Masticating – your mandible stripped to the bone

Mangling your tongue, bloody torn and dripping

The swollen savage muscle frayed and blistering

Your vocal chords severed, your lips are mutilated

Masticating carved palate as your mouth is grated

Only raw gargles croak from your throat

A trickling death-rasp as you choke

A silly grin carved from ear to ear

Spurting mucus and tongue as your wind-pipe tears

Gaping and sore

The rusty razors bore

Skin hangs and seeps

Peptic ulcers bleed

Your mouth is a sea of cartilage, rabid saliva bleeds

Swallowing shredded tongue and pulverized, crunching teeth

Respirating a bolus of rusty razor blades

“Oxidized Razor Masticator”, unlike the album’s more eloquent tracks, lacks philosophical ambiguity. It was simply Carcass taking a few moments to set things straight. Rumors began to circulate that Carcass members were vegetarians. This was not due, however, to their love of vegetables, but rather their willingness to ingest anything that was not beef, pork, etc.

This hideous buffet included oxidized razors. Nowhere can you find the use of this method more upfront than the blood-gargling vocals in the second verse here. Clearly practitioners of what they preached, Carcass were said to have owned stock in the Gillette Corporation, and later on, the Mach series of blades were inspired by the fast pace of the band’s music.

The song starts off with a veritable ‘how-to’ take on grindcore vocalizing with the Step One of “Chomping and splicing, your gums sliced to shreds.” From that point on, they lay out the instructional manual for every goregrind band that would enter the scene for the next 20+ years. From General Surgery to County Medical Examiners.  From (early) Exhumed to Lymphatic Phlegm. The entire subgenre owes their vocal assault to the clearly printed lyrics to this song. “Your mouth is a sea of cartilage, rabid saliva bleeds – Swallowing shredded tongue and pulverized, crunching teeth.” Indeed, lads. Indeed.

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Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Fifth Incision…Embodiment

This is the fifth in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

Embodiment

I bow down your precious icon, deity of self-suppression

This effigy of flesh, corporeal christi, nailed

In submission to this false idol, seeking deliverance

From this spiritual hierarchy, downward spiraling, a corrupt throne

Of repression and guilt

Our will be done

Thy kingdom burn

On my knees, before this tormented flesh, in irreverence

In communion with this parasitic host of virtuous divinity

This imperious creed bears testament to the failures of our morality

Righteous durance is our cross we bear in stations

In stations of the lost

Our will be done

Thy kingdom burn – thy kingdom burn

Our will be done

From your knees arise

By your own hand, your god you scribe

The earth shall inherit the meek

Your god is dead

Bound down, in God we’re trussed, foul stature

Icons embodied in flesh, we nail

In servitude to deities fashioned in our self image

Shadows of eternal strife cast by those who serve

Serve a crown of pawns

If up until this point you weren’t sure how the band Carcass feels about religion, Embodiment states it completely and in no uncertain terms. The song is an outright renunciation of organized religion, Christianity in particular.  The lyrics bubble with hatred and scorn for the self-annihilating principles that they believe mark the Christian outlook.  I don’t share the disdain that the band feels for Christianity, but the force of the language used in their argument is highly compelling.

The song’s central argument is that Christianity is an advanced form of slavery.  They make the case by dismissing the existence of any fathomable God and assuming that the goals of religion are to allow those who are in power to continue an unfettered hegemony over the practice of free will.  Where some people see peace and comfort, Carcass perceives control and subjugation.  Certainly, some of their argument is legitimate.  There are plenty of historical examples of the misuse of religion to advance the selfish ends of a tyrannical elite.  However, the song fails to address much of the comfort and solace that it has brought people for over 2000 years.  Further, it would be facile minded to simply assume that the self-abnegation at the core of Christian thought is completely a bad thing.  The giving up of one’s desires to benefit the community is on many occasions, inside or outside of a religious context, beneficial towards the human race as a whole.

In spite of the problems the argument presents, the language with which the case is made is striking.  The core belief in the song is contained in the beautifully efficient and devastating pun “In God we’re trussed”.  By taking an expression found on American money and perverting its message, Carcass is able to make several critical points.  First, the use of a religious phrase in an economic context effectively links the agenda of today’s Christianity with the pursuit of financial gain.  Then, they take the phrase and change trust (an act of faith) into trussed (to be tightly bound or in this case completely controlled).   Essentially, they argue here that while you may choose to subvert your needs for the Church it will not extend you the same courtesy and, worse, it will take your belief and use it to hoodwink you into giving up your possessions and your liberty.  In their eyes, it is the greatest hustle in human history.

What is truly lost for believers is contained in the heart-wrenching expression “the earth shall inherit the meek.”  The original phrase “the meek shall inherit the earth” is an appeal to the Job-like masses that give so tirelessly but ask for little in return.  They suffer in silence, but at the end of the day, they will be rewarded…or so the story goes.  The good and humble people will come to control the earth and the wicked will be cast from it.  The subversion of this expression contains allows for a very troubling message to be presented.  If you suffer in silence and do the right thing your reward will be the grave.  Death awaits us all and those who are pious and righteous are rewarded with the same eternal darkness that await those who pillage the world blind.  There are no rewards in this life or any other for those who follow the words contained in the Bible.  The meek will be buried right alongside those who engage in a Dionysian life of personal excess and unabated greed.  The ground cannot tell the two apart.

If this argument is legitimate, it presents us with chilling questions about how we should live our lives that goes beyond religion.  If there are truly no consequences for our actions, why not do whatever we want?  Those with the most material, at the end of the day, are those who have benefitted most from a purely material world.  If all that is promised to us for a good life is an eventual death, what is the motivation in living a justly?

I believe that the truth or untruth of God’s existence need not bear on whether someone acts morally.  If every word of the Bible is true and God’s existence is exactly as portrayed in Christianity, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable.  If every word of the Bible is false and Christianity is an unholy scam perpetrated by on the masses by ruthless power mongers, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable.  The reward of living a just life is simply getting to live a just life.  That’s all.  The earth may inherit the meek, but at least the meek can lessen the suffering of those around them.  Nothing else is promised and nothing else is certain.  TS Eliot eloquently summarizes this principle in his poem “Choruses From The Rock”…..

All men are ready to invest their money

But most expect dividends

I say to you: Make perfect your will.

I say: take no thought of the harvest,

But only of proper sowing

It is our station to care for one another to the best of our abilities regardless what the truth of the universe is.  To love without condition is the greatest gift we could bestow on our world no matter what the terms of our existence are.  Any philosophy that brings us closer to that ability, be it religious or atheistic, is worthy of our respect and consideration.

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Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Fourth Incision…Heartwork

This is the fourth in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

Heartwork

Works of art, painted black

Magniloquent, bleeding dark

Monotonous palate, murky spectrum, grimly unlimited

Food for thought, so prolific

In contrasting shades, forcedly fed

Abstraction, so choking, so provocative

A canvas to paint, to degenerate

Dark reflections – degeneration

A canvas to paint, to denigrate

Dark reflections, of dark foul light

Profound, aesthetic beauty

Or shaded, sensory corruption

Perceptions, shattered, splintered, mirroring

In deft taints, diluted, tinted

Spelt out, in impaired color

Denigrating, going to paints to pain – not a pretty picture

Works of heart bleeding dark

Black, magniloquent art

Monotonous palate, murky spectrum, grimly unlimited

Prolific food for thought

Contrasting, fed with force

Abstraction, so choking, so provocative

Bleeding works of art

Seething work so dark

Searing words from the heart

Heartwork is a statement of purpose.  Its story belongs not only to Jeff Walker and Carcass but also to anyone who has ever spent a significant stretch of time staring into the abyss.  Why do we gaze into the darkness?  What are we looking for?  What is it that makes some people gravitate toward existential questions that are presented in extreme music?  Heavy metal, for all intents and purposes, is a death factory.  Trying to find ten songs on your hard drive that don’t deal with some form of horrific strife, violent rage or terrible suffering is a nearly absurd task for those who are obsessed with The Sound.  Even power metal, with all of its uplift and ecstatic jubilance, often contains elements of profound sadness and pain.  To spend your life pondering terror, strife and human suffering hardly seems to be time well spent, but its appeal, at least for me, is undeniable.

There seems to be a popular school of thought that encourages people to “think happy thoughts”.  The idea of perseverating on horror is felt by many to be a recipe for dangerous feelings of sadness and detachment from the world.  On one level, there is something that seems correct about this idea.  Good vibes in, good vibes out.  Perfect equilibrium.  Yet, no matter how much goodness and light we choose to bathe in, we still suffer and we still die.  Spending life trying to fill ourselves with the beauty around us may be the best way to live for some, but it feels disingenuous to me.  Death and suffering are all around us.  We are, in fact, all living out a slow motion disintegration.  I cannot hide from it; I cannot pretend it isn’t there.  My fear of the eventual fate that awaits me is a critical element of who I am.

There is an authenticity that comes with accepting one’s fate. Beyond that, there is a strange feeling of liberation that a person can achieve by coming to terms with the worst elements of existence.  Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai whose insights were collected in a book the Hagakure in the early 18th century, makes a fantastic case for this sort of thinking.   One of the most stirring passages of the book says, “Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.”

This meditation on death seems like a morbid exercise, but how else is a person supposed to rationally process the mortal terror that comes with the recognition of one’s finiteness.  We cannot change it, but we do not have to run from it.

In the song Heartwork, Walker is stating the necessity of recognizing the dim, murky reality of our being.  The artist, coming to terms with this awareness, can do nothing of value but create an art that reflects the degeneration of our spirits and bodies.  The goal is not to shock people, nor to frighten people, but simply to state in no uncertain terms, that everything is not okay.  This type of dark art can provide the audience with the gift of catharsis.  We are not alone in our terror.  We may have to accept the terrible terms of our existence, but we don’t have to do so by ourselves.

Here’s the video…..

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Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Third Incision…No Love Lost

This is the third in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

No Love Lost

Sensual awakening
Numbing feelings dead
Conceptions romanticized
Synthesized broken hearts to bled

Without emotion your heartstrings played
Strummed and severed to the tune of a tragic serenade

[A tragic chorus]
Without emotion, your heartstrings break
Snapped and severed to the tune of a tragic, sad cliche

No love lost
When all is said and done
There’s no love lost

The low cost of loving
Amorous travesty
Human frailties and weakness are easy prey
How your poor heart will bleed

The modern conception of romantic love is nothing short of vulgar.  I do not mean vulgar in the sense of it being lewd or lascivious, but more so remarkably crass and repulsively commercialized.  One of the more humiliating acts that exist in our culture is that of picking out a card for a loved ones birthday.  The well-intentioned shopper is immediately met with all forms of syrupy sweet, ersatz garbage that pass for a genuine expression of feeling.  Being told “I love you” Hallmark style is the equivalent of having some dude in a lime green leisure suit approach you and tell you that we should get rid of all the letters in the way so that “U and I can get together.” Love can seem like an ill-concieved, ham-handed con with all the charm of one of those insidious pop-ups that try to convince the barely sentient of the rich rewards that will be showered on them if only they surrender their credit card number.  It is not hard to understand the disgust that would motivate Jeff Walker to write the words in “No Love Lost”.

While I am in complete agreement with the notion that love has been trivialized, I can’t climb on board with the idea that there is no such thing as love.  The following admission is probably going to get my universal skeptic license suspended for the next six months, but, in all honesty, love is the one con I simply cannot renounce.  I want to believe that there is a category of human experience that transcends our own personal needs and allows us, even momentarily, to exist for another.  I want to think that there is more to life than survival and that we have a deeper need for connection to other humans.  There must be more than just dumb, barely animate material wandering aimlessly from cradle to grave.  I believe that many people share an essential longing to understand each other, to see their neighbors as beings dealing with the same existential dilemmas as themselves, struggling to find some compassion or empathy and aspiring to give that gift to another even though nothing tells them they have to.  The best approximation of these feelings and desires is the word love.

Maybe this understanding reflects the cynicism expressed in “No Love Lost”.  Imagine desperately wanting to feel the connection to others and being given back nothing but Hugh Grant movies and power ballads.  Trying to come to terms with love in our contemporary carnival of cheap thrills and easy answers is a demoralizing task.  If I am ever to really conceptualize what love means my expression of it will be minimized by the fact that the language I have to communicate it has been co-opted by a bunch of soft-sell dream peddlers who are more concerned about appealing to a demographic representation of males 25-34 than finding deeper human truths.  Why not look at the Love Industry with scorn? After all, it has robbed us of our full means to relate something significant and meaningful to the world.   Instead of filling us with a feeling of awe and reverence, the word fills so many seekers of reality with bitterness and irritation.

Maybe the real demonstration of the transcendent power of love is whether it can overcome the cesspool of a market in which it now resides.  Occasionally there are human truths that possess so much power that they can surmount any obstacle set before them.  That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway.  For us to believe that love is real maybe we need to see that it can be debased in every way imaginable and still carry meaning.  Or maybe those who sell it have uncovered the terrible truth; that love is simply an inducement to get the suckers to buy more of what they don’t need.  Give them the fantasy of love and they’ll gladly exchange it for safety, freedom and power over their own lives.  I desperately hope that this isn’t so.

(This series is being co-published by the folks over at MindOverMetal.org.  Check’em out!)

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